The city of Port St. Joe will receive state grant funds to complete badly-needed upgrades to the Chipola Pump Station.
The station is critical to the city’s water supply, pumping water from the Chipola River into the freshwater canal that meanders miles down to the city’s surface water treatment plant.
The station is decades old and the city has already replaced one pump and a generator.
The Northwest Florida Water Management District announced last week some $10 million in water quality grant funding, including nearly $200,000 to allow the city to rehabilitate the second supply pump and add a new diesel generator.
“The project will help improve public health and safety by providing a more reliable water supply system,” the NWFWMD release stated.
City officials have been trying to identify funding to complete the upgrades to the Chipola Pump Station for months.
The station will become even more critical as the city expands, per the NWFWMD desires, to become more of a regional supplier of water.
The city’s plant has a capacity of some 6 million gallons a day, but the reliability of the pump station is essential.
The water management district last year earmarked some $10 million for grant funding to water quality projects around the region.
Projects eligible for grant funding included traditional water supply development projects, as well as alternative water supply projects, such as reuse and conservation projects that result in quantifiable water savings.
The city, at the urging of Commissioner Rex Buzzett, immediately applied for funding.
After careful review and evaluation of the many worthwhile projects submitted, the District identified 24 projects it was able to fund in this grant cycle.
“Ensuring a clean and reliable supply of water for the people and natural systems of this region is one of the District’s top priorities,” said Governing Board Chairman George Roberts. “The Governing Board is pleased to play a part in helping local communities address their water supply challenges and needs.”
Many of the projects, including the Chipola Pump Station, include replacements, repairs or upgrades to aging and deteriorating water distribution and treatment systems.
“Many of these projects are important to our local communities not only in terms of improving water supply, but also to helping protect public health and safety,” said District Governing Board Member Bo Spring, a resident of Port St. Joe.
The majority of the projects awarded serve financially disadvantaged communities – Gulf County is part of an eight-county region considered by the state to be of critical economic condition – which struggle to fund vital projects without infrastructure assistance.
“Through this grant program, the Northwest Florida Water Management District is working to address importantand much needed water supply, water quality and public safety needs in Northwest Floridaand House District 7,” said State Representative Halsey Beshears (R-Monticello). “This funding will go a long way in providing permanence for long-term needs in our rural counties. We appreciate the District’s favorable consideration of these projects.”
Combined with match funding from the local governments and other grants, the District’s funding is anticipated to leverage a total of $15.8 million in projects to meet regional water supply challenges.